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Secret Drinker at the Lydden Bell pub near Dover

Nestled away in a beautiful little corner of Kent, this pub might be just a few miles from a bustling port, but sat in the quiet garden you could be in the middle of nowhere.

I came across the Lydden Bell, in the village of the same name, purely by chance and no sooner had I walked through the door I decided my luck was in.

The Lydden Bell is beautifully positioned with great views of the surrounding countryside
The Lydden Bell is beautifully positioned with great views of the surrounding countryside

The place was bustling, even early in the evening, and we were met by wide smiles and a warm welcome.

I remarked that the pub looked busy for an early evening mid-week and Lee joked that all the credit must go to Jolie – he reckons that before installing her behind the bar it was a struggle dragging the punters in.

Mind you, when it came to recommending a beer the joking quickly stopped and his serious recommendation was Ravening Wolf from the Wantsum Brewery, a 5.9% New Zealand pale ale - it's brewed locally, not too far away in Thanet.

It’s not like most pale ales you try, but is definitely one of the better ‘chewy’ beers you’ll get to sample. It stayed fresh and tasty right through to the final mouthful.

Mrs SD went soft for once and I splashed out £1.10 for a refreshing lime and soda.

Stylish against a flawless blue sky, the sign is as classy as the pub
Stylish against a flawless blue sky, the sign is as classy as the pub

And, Christmas must come early in these parts as the festive menu was already on each of the nice, old wooden tables spread across the bar.

The usual olive green and grey colours, adopted by just about all trendy bars, have been ignored in favour of terracotta and mustard paint and the music in the background was appropriate in terms of selection and volume.

There was a fruit machine, but no pool or darts although it does feel like the whole place is set up purely for diners, so much so, they automatically assume you are coming in to eat when you arrive and guide you to a table.

The Wantsum Brewery is at St Nicolas At Wade, near Birchington
The Wantsum Brewery is at St Nicolas At Wade, near Birchington

While I remember, and in response to all the requests I receive when I fail to include this information, I can report the toilets were absolutely spotless and a joy to visit – immaculate in black and white.

But, it was a nice evening and I had the SD hound in tow so I made a beeline for the garden.

Rather than walking through the bar I went via the car park which, in hindsight, was an error as it took me past the massive extractor fan chucking out from the kitchen. The pooch might have appreciated a hefty waft of fat fumes and the warm air but I wasn’t as keen.

The tables and chairs in the garden are in among the apple trees
The tables and chairs in the garden are in among the apple trees

The well-kept garden is on the side of quite a steep hill. It's delightful with apple trees and picnic tables dotted and the views across the pub fence are spectacular. This must be a great dog walking area and our four-legged friends are welcomed both inside and outside the pub.

I’m not quite sure why, but for some reason every pub I’ve visited recently has had at least one person wearing a hi-vis vest, perhaps it’s a new H&S requirement. One fellow, complete with a pointless knee bandage chose, like me, to sit outside – though he rejected the posh-looking Rattan-style furniture in favour of the wall.

Take a look over the fence, you won’t be disappointed
Take a look over the fence, you won’t be disappointed
The pub is around five miles from Dover, eight miles from Folkestone and 10 miles from Canterbury, and within easy reach of the A2
The pub is around five miles from Dover, eight miles from Folkestone and 10 miles from Canterbury, and within easy reach of the A2

While safety equipment is clearly welcomed it seems those choosing to arrive by the safest of all vehicles are not allowed in the car park – there’s an MOD sign on the wall stating military vehicles are prohibited.

This is certainly a pub I’ll add to my ‘must visit again’ list and perhaps later in the year, after leaving the tank at home and taking a dog walk instead, I’ll get to sample the food sitting alongside the pub’s inviting wood burning stove.

Read more Secret Drinker reviews here

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Fancy being a landlord? This village pub needs a new guv'nor

The pub is open every day from noon to 11pm
The pub is open every day from noon to 11pm

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There always seems to be someone wearing a luminous vest
There always seems to be someone wearing a luminous vest
A sign of the times, though perhaps not the modern era – but don’t park your tank here
A sign of the times, though perhaps not the modern era – but don’t park your tank here
The front entrance porch, near the road, is sensibly decommissioned
The front entrance porch, near the road, is sensibly decommissioned

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